Category:
Technology

Personalizing: A Key Strategy to Simplifying the Business of Healthcare

Personalizing: A Key Strategy to Simplifying the Business of Healthcare

10/02/2018

by Jeff Young

 

You’ve likely read the articles and seen the studies touting the power of personalization in engaging consumers. When it comes to their healthcare benefits, the same applies—U.S. workers have an overwhelming preference for personalized communications, online tools and resources, as demonstrated by our own Clear Insights Report earlier this year.

As we gear up for open enrollment, we want to share examples of personalization that we hope inspire you—whether you’re an employer, benefits broker or third-party administrator—to get personal in ways that help both you and consumers meet their goals this year.

 

A Competitive Advantage, Especially with Millennials

When you personalize healthcare benefits communications, you provide a highly targeted, relevant consumer experience that’s been shown to drive increased enrollment, contributions and rates of saving, as well as increased consumer value and engagement. You’re also simply meeting consumer demand, as 74 percent of polled workers say they feel frustrated when web content isn’t personalized, and 63 percent say they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant.

It’s worth noting that millennials, which became the largest generation in the labor force as of 2016, appear to be the most discerning when it comes to personalization, or more specifically, the lack thereof: Their adoption rates for online portals, mobile apps and email are lower than most people expect. If it’s not personalized or customized, millennials are most likely ignoring communications and hitting delete.

Today’s focus on personalization is also driven by the massive amounts of consumer data that most employers and benefits administrators find themselves sitting on. You’re being presented with unprecedented opportunities to sort this information in ways that helps consumers be more engaged, educated and prepared.

 

Tell Them What Matters Today

Rather than blast out a one-size-fits-all message to consumers, build rules-based messages to target them based on specific criteria, for example:

  • Custom messages on hero banners, portal homepages and/or post-login prompts can be configured around demographics such as a consumer’s age, state of residence, if he/she has a dependent and more.
  • Text can be targeted around account specifics like whether or not consumers have set a health savings account (HSA) savings goal or have HSA dollars to invest, what type of plan they’re enrolled in, how much money is in their cash account and/or their investment account, and the amount and type of transactions on their HSA debit card.

 

Help Consumers Maximize Their Dollars

Employers and benefits administrators today are most often introducing custom content that creates consumer awareness regarding expected out-of-pocket costs. Here are some examples of how data can be turned into actionable content:

  • Because younger audiences typically have the benefit of time, employers can target messaging to them about the importance of starting healthcare savings accounts early.
  • Workers age 55 and over with an HSA can be targeted with messaging reminding them that they have a higher maximum contribution.
  • A banner image can remind flexible spending account (FSA) participants to spend their money before runout is over.
  • Cost-saving tools can be tailored to family size, account balance or spending activity, and links or displays can be filtered around specific state regulations or transit authority messages with features and functionality provided through WEX Health Cloud.
  • A text can be sent reminding HSA participants who have dependents that they can use their HSA dollars for things like contact solution, sunscreen, first aid kits, blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors, thermometers and more. (The WEX Health Cloud mobile app also now allows users to scan an item to see if it qualifies as an HSA-eligible expense.)

 

To measure the power of personalization, the WEX Health Cloud Administrator Dashboard helps benefits administrators see the state of your CDH account-based business, allowing you to better manage and monitor growth, efficiency and engagement across your organization.

Personalization leads to better consumer engagement and efficiency, which leads to helping consumers maximize their health benefit accounts, and ultimately, that’s what it’s all about: simplifying the business of healthcare.

 

For more information and ideas on personalizing communications and experiences for consumers, check out our Clear Insights Report. And be sure to read our blog post and to follow us on Twitter to keep up with WEX Health happenings.

 


Jeff Young

President, Health | WEX Inc.

Jeff joined WEX in 2014 when the company acquired Evolution1 to expand its healthcare payments business. He spearheads the company’s efforts to simplify the business of consumer-driven healthcare and is responsible for WEX’s growing healthcare business, with a focus on industry-leading technology and a strong partner network. Before joining Evolution 1 as CEO and chairman in 2008, Jeff was the vice president of business applications at Microsoft Corporation in the U.S., and prior to that, he held senior leadership positions at Great Plains Software, helping lead Great Plains through its successful IPO and eventual sale to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. A graduate of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), Jeff serves on the boards of Bell Bank in Fargo and West Fargo (N.D.) Baseball.

Keep Your Data Safe: Our Head of Infrastructure and Operations Shares His Top 3 Tips

Keep Your Data Safe: Our Head of Infrastructure and Operations Shares His Top 3 Tips

07/02/2018

by Jesse Braasch

 

It’s rare for a week to go by without news breaking of a data breach at a top company. As such, I continually receive questions about what our Partners can do to reduce their risk of such a breach within their own business. In a previous post, we outlined the biggest threats to data security and privacy in healthcare; today, I want to share what you can do to protect the personal healthcare information (PHI) entrusted to you by your customers or employees from breach or fraud. Here are my top tips:

 

Just get started.

What should you do to keep bad actors away from your systems? My No. 1 data-protection tip for any Partner using our WEX Health Cloud platform, or even pertaining to your own data in your own business, is to get started. Consider how you’re leveraging the existing tools and services already available to you, and you don’t have to rely entirely on your IT team to do so. For instance, our WEX Health Cloud platform has numerous security and fraud prevention features built in that Partners can choose to leverage. These security features aren’t mandated; our Partners need to choose for themselves which they’re going to enable for their use of the system. It comes down to how you train your staff to leverage the tools and services available to them to reduce your risk.

 

Give data security the attention it deserves.

When evaluating SaaS solutions, many companies are most focused on availability or the performance or scale of a solution. That’s important stuff, but not as important as trust. When you bring your business and all your data to a SaaS solution and begin to look at that solution as a service provider, you must trust that the provider can provide security and infrastructure that’s not only as good as what you have now, but much better. Look for any SaaS company you partner with to take that partnership with you very seriously to ensure their services become a seamless extension of the services you provide.

 

Don’t react. Hunt.

In the world of security and fraud prevention, a lot of the technology has been structured around preventing financial and data loss. However, in data security, there’s recently been an important shift in focus away from preventing or reacting to breaches toward actively “hunting” for them. By restructuring your security processes so that you’re concentrated on hunting out a breach and limiting its negative impact rather than preventing it, you’ll ultimately do more to protect yourself and your customers. That’s because it’s not a matter of if a data breach will happen but when and you need to take proactive steps before it does to minimize its overall negative impact. While this sounds scary, this concept is exactly why we all have smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, evacuation procedures, posted exits and fire drills. Those are all proactive measures taken before a fire happens to reduce the damage when it does. To limit the negative outcomes, do your best to prevent, but detect and react fast.

 

For more on the best approach to data security, we invite you to watch our video about data security in the healthcare space:

 


Jesse Braasch

Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations at WEX Health

Jesse Braasch is the Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations at WEX Health, the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) company in the healthcare payment market today. His favorite saying is, “The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way!’” In the ever-changing, always dynamic world of consumer directed healthcare, Jesse’s dedication to innovation and excellence will continue to keep WEX Health at the forefront of the current healthcare revolution.

As the consumer driven healthcare industry grows exponentially, Jesse will help ensure WEX Health’s technical ecosystem has best-in-breed features, stability, security, and quality of service so the company is able to scale in parallel with the industry. Jesse’s passion is delivering creative yet rock solid technologies that truly solve the needs of the customer and enable speed to market.

Regarded as a veteran of the technology industry, Jesse has over twenty years of experience working for industry leading SaaS corporations and Fortune 500 companies. Most recently Jesse was Director of Infrastructure for XRS Corporation, a SaaS company providing trucking fleet management solutions, where he led server, storage, database, and IT operations teams. Prior to working at XRS, Jesse held technical and team leadership positions at Target Corporation, Fair Isaac Corporation, and Travelers Indemnity Company.

After serving in the United States Marine Corps, Jesse earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from Capella University, and is currently pursuing his Masters of Science degree in Security. Jesse, his wife, and two teenage sons live in Maple Grove, MN, where he is an active volunteer in the community’s youth ice hockey association.

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

Where Mobile Meets Financial & Physical Health

06/20/2018

by Jackie Dornfeld

 

The financial and physical health of many Americans is alarming. About 40 percent of U.S. adults cannot cover a $400 emergency expense1, and less than three percent of Americans live a “healthy lifestyle”2.  In addition, according to the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report, most U.S. workers find healthcare confusing, spend less than 30 minutes annually making benefit decisions, and are increasingly concerned about out-of-pocket medical expenses today and in retirement. All of this can result in a vicious cycle of financial insecurity, leading to stress and chronic disease, and ending in devastating medical expenses and financial ruin. Frightening.

 

Building Resilience

To help break this spiral, consumers need support in developing resilience against health and financial stress. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), helping consumers use good judgement and a strategy to spend, save, borrow, and plan can help build financial health:

Source:  CFSI, Insuring the Way to a Financially Resilient America, June 2018

 

 Enter Consumer-Driven Health and Mobile Technology

A tax advantaged, consumer-driven health account such as a health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or flexible spending account (FSA) accessed using mobile technology is one specific path to resilience. For instance, paying for qualified medical expenses with HSA funds can yield savings of 22 to 40 percent. And, with 79 percent of U.S. consumers now owning a smartphone3, many consumers prefer using mobile apps to manage both their personal finances and health benefits.  

 

Building the Right Consumer Experience

The WEX Health Cloud Mobile App is an example of how key features can be delivered that help consumers use their consumer-driven health account to spend, save, borrow and plan.

With the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App, Consumers Can…

  • Spend:
    • Use fingerprint login and enhanced authentication options to:
      • Pay bills using HSA, HRA, or FSA funds
      • Snap a photo of a receipt and submit with a new or existing claim
      • Request an HSA distribution
    • Save:
      • Contribute funds to an HSA or FSA to build savings
      • View HSA investment details to gauge progress against savings goals
    • Borrow:
      • Check account balances including HSA Advance, which is a WEX Health feature that allows employees to borrow against future HSA balances to cover unplanned expenses
    • Plan:
      • Scan a product bar code to determine eligibility as a qualified medical expense
      • View “Account Snapshot” graphics to assess status of account details

 

 

Looking to the Future

As consumers become more sophisticated and their digital expectations grow, opportunities exist to enhance and personalize the mobile experience even further with price transparency tools, calculators, targeted messaging, guidance tools, fitness resources, and more. By delivering mobile innovations that engage consumers in managing their financial and physical health, we empower better decision-making and accountability for millions of Americans.

 

To learn more about consumer attitudes and expectations regarding healthcare expenses, preferences for using online tools and mobile apps, and more, read the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Report on the Economic Well-being of U.S. Households, 2017
  2. Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2016
  3. ComScore, 2016

 


Jackie Dornfeld

Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health

Jackie Dornfeld is the Senior Director of Product Management at WEX Health, responsible for annual product roadmap planning and the research, definition, and launch of new products including the WEX Health Cloud Mobile App.  She has over 25 years in health care including leadership positions in the areas of product development, product management, marketing and strategic planning.  Prior to joining WEX Health in 2008, Jackie held roles in the TPA, health plan, consulting, and hospital industries and is currently active on the Membership Committee of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust.  Jackie received a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  


Effective Uses of Personalization in Healthcare Benefits

Let’s Get Personal: Effective Uses of Personalization in Healthcare Benefits

05/22/2018

by Lisa Goldkamp

 

If you have not read the new WEX Health Clear Insights report, I urge you to take a few minutes to do so. The report is the result of a recently commissioned research study conducted to gain a deeper understanding of employees’ attitudes about healthcare benefits. One of the first things I noticed is that three-quarters of the respondents said they spend less than an hour during open enrollment evaluating the different healthcare options offered by employers. That’s not a lot of time to devote to important decisions that impact both physical and financial wellness. This indicates that there is a very short window of time during open enrollment during which to educate employees about their healthcare benefits and to impact their choices.

 

So, how do we make every one of those minutes count? Our survey respondents indicated that “getting personal” will work best, and they ranked the effectiveness of several types of materials and tools available to aid with personalization. In nearly 13 years at WEX Health, I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of benefits administrators, consultants and advisors. One of the universal challenges these audiences have talked with me about is the education barrier that exists between consumers and healthcare benefit options. I would argue that, although our findings regarding timeframes spent by employees during open enrollment are likely a contributing factor, they support the theory that benefits education must be highly focused and occur on an ongoing basis.

 

“…benefits education must be highly focused and occur on an ongoing basis.”

 

Personalization Can Give Employees an Ongoing, Guided Tour
Think about the volume of information that employees get during open enrollment. It certainly can be overwhelming. Human nature tells us more is better, but in this case the reverse is true. People can only consume the information that is relevant to them in the present. By thinking about employees’ use of benefits as a journey, or a tour, employers can start creating multi-pronged personalized touchpoints before, during and after the enrollment period, using WEX Health Cloud Advanced Messaging capabilities.

 

Here are some examples to consider:

  1. Prior to and during open enrollment, present employees with engaging graphical images and easy to digest information about benefit options that they are not currently enrolled in, and that might help them to save money.
  2. Use specific criteria to target individuals with “people like me” messaging. For instance, provide information about the benefits of adding a LPFSA (Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Arrangement) exclusively to individuals that are have incurred dental expenses and currently have an HSA that is not paired with a LPFSA.
  3. On an ongoing basis, educate consumers about the benefits that they did select. For example, employees who are age 55 and above can be shown eye-catching reminders that they are eligible to make catch-up HSA contributions.

 

The education component must continue well beyond capturing the enrollment. The key is to find ways to help employees see themselves in the examples they receive. The encouraging news is that, while employees do not spend a great deal of time reviewing materials during open enrollment, they do want and are open to help from their employers in becoming better prepared for healthcare expenses.

 

I am explaining some of the ways WEX Health Cloud can be used to create personalized employee experiences in a webinar on Tuesday, June 12, at 1 p.m. Central Time. I’ll be joined by Jeff Bakke, chief strategy officer at WEX Health, who will share more perspective on our research findings. Register here for this 30-minute webinar. I hope you join us!

 


Lisa Goldkamp

Lisa Goldkamp

Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions at WEX Health

As the Vice President of Partner Development and Sales Solutions, Lisa leads the Pre-sales Enablement and Partner Development teams. Lisa strives to ensure every Partner, whether sales distribution or administrative, has the tools to succeed and grow their business through their partnership with WEX Health. Lisa and her team members consult with prospective and current partners as deep technology and solutions experts regarding how the WEX Health offerings match up with their specific needs. Since joining our team in 2005, Lisa has worked with hundreds of partners as they have evaluated our solutions. She is a passionate member of our community who frequently presents at industry events and has used her technology and healthcare expertise to help WEX Health and our partners optimize their growth potential.

Prior to joining WEX Health, Lisa was a sales executive for a national IT training company, which is where she developed a passion for utilizing technology to solve problems and create new business opportunities.

Why Employers Should Care About Their Employees’ Financial Stability

Why Employers Should Care About Their Employees’ Financial Stability

05/10/2018

by Jeff Bakke

 

Last week at WEX Health Partner Conference 2018, I had the opportunity to take part in a very important conversation with the industry’s leading benefits administrators, health plan providers, financial institutions and employers—and it wasn’t about technology. It was about the state of financial health in our nation, why it matters to us and all the tools we have available today to empower employers as they take on a bigger role in helping their employees achieve financial stability.

 

In our new WEX Health Clear Insights report on Easing Workers’ Concerns about the Rising Cost of Healthcare, we found that two-thirds of those surveyed are somewhat or very worried about unexpected out-of-pocket costs associated with their current healthcare needs or illnesses. Nearly half of those people are also worried about the cost of healthcare in retirement. And a quarter of respondents said they forgo healthcare services all the time or often due to out-of-pocket expenses.

 

To help us better understand the financial stressors faced by U.S. workers, we asked Sarah Gordon, chief strategy officer with the Center for Financial Services Innovation, to join our conversation. Sarah revealed a few key findings from their 2017 study on employee financial health.

  • One in three employees reports that issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work.
  • Workers with high financial stress are two times as likely to use sick time when not ill.

 

During his opening keynote at Partner Conference, Jeff Young, WEX’s president of Health, played a video featuring Jan Pynappel, vice president of consumer directed health at Fifth Third Bank, who shared many ways employers find value in the WEX Health Cloud Employer Dashboard. Jan reported that employers like to offer employees tools like the HSA Healthcare Savings Goal Calculator because they want their employees to be successful when they retire in their later years. It’s assuring to them to see that their employees are saving toward their established goals.

 

Other employers may feel that delving into workers’ financial matters is too personal. However, we found in our Clear Insights survey results that employees want and are open to more help from their employers, especially in the areas of determining the amount of money to set aside each month to cover deductibles and to put into their accounts overall.

 

Register for our upcoming 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, June 12, at 1 p.m. Central to learn more about our 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights report findings and calls to action based on the types of experiences and communications employees expect and prefer as they work to better manage their healthcare benefits and expenses.

Register Here

 


Jeff Bakke WEX Health

Jeff Bakke

Chief Strategy Officer at WEX Health

At WEX Health, Jeff oversees corporate strategy, distribution strategy, and strategic partnerships. A specialist at identifying and capturing business opportunities, Jeff has built and led innovative high-performance teams, developed new products and markets, and developed large strategic clients with exceptional recurring revenue results. He has been instrumental in WEX Health’s focus on the emerging exchange market as well as a continued emphasis on HSA market opportunities.

Jeff’s career includes working at SafeNet, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica Health Plans, Allianz and American Express. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Wrap-up Post: 2018 WEX Health Partner Conference and Partner Excellence Awards

Wrap-up Post: 2018 WEX Health Partner Conference and Partner Excellence Awards

05/09/2018

by Jeff Young

 

Even though WEX Health’s Partner Conference 2018 and Partner Excellence Awards are behind us, I’m still buzzing from the energy and ideas we generated last week during the more than 60 sessions and countless hallway conversations held between partners.

 

If you made it to Scottsdale this year, I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your busy schedule to be at our event and for making the most out of the learning opportunities we served up via keynotes, breakout sessions, spotlight sessions, partner panels, our innovation demo stage and our hands-on lab. I look forward to seeing what all this networking and idea-swapping yields in the coming months. (And before we know it, it will be time for next year’s conference in another famously sunny spot—Miami.)

 

I also want to again congratulate the winners of this year’s Partner Excellence Awards. Recipients were recognized for reaching significant milestones across several areas, including growth, evangelism, leadership, innovation and customer service as well as overall outstanding partner successes. The winners span our partner base, with large to mid-sized health plans, banks, payroll providers, private exchanges and leading third-party administrators representing a breadth of leadership, knowledge and expertise across industries.

 

The WEX Health Partner Excellence Award categories and winners are:

 

Growth Excellence

  • Consolidated Admin Services, LLC
  • HealthPartners
  • Optum
  • UPMC Health Plan

 

Evangelist

  • Group Dynamic, Inc.
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Medica

 

Innovator

  • BPAS, Inc.
  • PNC
  • Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group

 

Market Maker

  • BenefitWallet
  • HSA Bank, a Division of Webster Bank
  • ThrivePass

 

Sales Excellence

  • Administrative Solutions, Inc. (ASi)
  • Chard Snyder Benefit Solutions
  • Pro-Flex Administrators, LLC

 

Service Excellence

  • Associated Bank
  • Benefit Strategies, LLC

 

Solution Visionary

  • Alerus
  • Benefitfocus, Inc.
  • Paychex

 

Leadership

  • Rob Hayes, BASIC

 

New Partner of the Year

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch

 

Card Innovation Partner of the Year

  • HealthSCOPE Benefits

 

Billing Partner of the Year

  • Ameriflex

 

CDH Platform Partner of the Year

  • Infinisource Benefit Services

 

Partner of the Year

  • Discovery Benefits, Inc.

 

During this year’s conference, we also released our first WEX Health Clear Insights Report, with guidance on how employers can play an even greater part in enabling their employees to feel confident about managing their healthcare expenses. To gather these insights, we asked approximately 1,100 American workers questions about their employer-sponsored health insurance, decision-making processes, healthcare spending habits and challenges, and preferred tools for learning about plans, among other topics.

Download the 2018 WEX Health Clear Insights Report today.

 


Jeff Young

President, Health | WEX Inc.

Jeff joined WEX in 2014 when the company acquired Evolution1 to expand its healthcare payments business. He spearheads the company’s efforts to simplify the business of consumer-driven healthcare and is responsible for WEX’s growing healthcare business, with a focus on industry-leading technology and a strong partner network. Before joining Evolution 1 as CEO and chairman in 2008, Jeff was the vice president of business applications at Microsoft Corporation in the U.S., and prior to that, he held senior leadership positions at Great Plains Software, helping lead Great Plains through its successful IPO and eventual sale to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. A graduate of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), Jeff serves on the boards of Bell Bank in Fargo and West Fargo (N.D.) Baseball.

What to Expect at Partner Conference Next Week

04/23/2018

by Jeff Young

 

Around the WEX Health offices, we’ve got all hands on deck to prepare for next week, when our go-to industry event Partner Conference 2018 will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona, from April 30 – May 2. Once again, we anticipate record-breaking attendance from our WEX Health Partners.

 

As our Partners, you help us connect WEX Health to more than 300,000 employers and more than 25 million consumers across the U.S. and Canada. Because you work tirelessly with us to reduce costs and simplify the business of healthcare, we’re committed to providing a superior value proposition for you in multiple ways. One of these is through Partner Conference, which gives our Partners the opportunity to come together for an intense agenda of learning, networking and celebrating. Here are some of the good things to look forward to this year:

 

A motivational keynote message will be delivered by two-time New York Times best-selling author Sally Hogshead, the creator of Fascination Advantage®, the first communication assessment that measures how others perceive you.

 

I’ll also be speaking at the conference, as will these keynote speakers:

  • Jeff Bakke, chief strategy officer, WEX Health
  • Chris Byrd, executive vice president and corporate development officer, WEX Health
  • Matt Dallahan, senior vice president, WEX Health
  • Sarah Gordon, chief strategy officer, Center for Financial Services Innovation
  • Brad Holmes, managing vice president, Gartner

 

This year’s conference will also include concurrent breakout sessions, innovation demo stage presentations, spotlight sessions, hands-on labs and partner panels. Additionally, there will be numerous networking opportunities, a sponsor expo and the annual Partner Awards dinner and program.

 

And as Partners, you will get a sneak peek of the exciting new features and functionality in the upcoming WEX Health Cloud June 2018 release, which will include user interface refreshes and mobile payments for COBRA.

 

You will also hear about upcoming WEX Health 2018 Marketing & Sales Bootcamps planned for June 12-13 in Buffalo, New York, and July 17-18 in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Find the full agenda here.

 

We look forward to hosting you, and encourage you to share your Partner Conference 2018 experience in real time via Twitter #WEXPC2018.


Jeff Young

President, Health | WEX Inc.

Jeff joined WEX in 2014 when the company acquired Evolution1 to expand its healthcare payments business. He spearheads the company’s efforts to simplify the business of consumer-driven healthcare and is responsible for WEX’s growing healthcare business, with a focus on industry-leading technology and a strong partner network. Before joining Evolution 1 as CEO and chairman in 2008, Jeff was the vice president of business applications at Microsoft Corporation in the U.S., and prior to that, he held senior leadership positions at Great Plains Software, helping lead Great Plains through its successful IPO and eventual sale to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. A graduate of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), Jeff serves on the boards of Bell Bank in Fargo and West Fargo (N.D.) Baseball.

Our Top Takeaways from the State Healthcare IT Connect Summit

4/16/2018

by Christopher Breining and Patrick Forman

 

As part of our ongoing effort to listen to and engage with leaders in healthcare IT, WEX Health attended the 9th Annual State Healthcare IT Connect Summit in Baltimore last week. We joined more than 700 fellow attendees, including public and private sector thought leaders, to share ideas and benchmark implementation strategies for state health IT systems as they move forward with diverse health and human services transformation programs. We were recently sharing our key takeaways from the summit with colleagues and thought WEX Health Trends & Insights readers may be interested in them, too. Here are some of the most interesting things we heard:

 

1. “Health data is our data”: Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, delivered the opening keynote, in which he spoke about the 21st Century Cures Act and the Trump administration’s focus on interoperability. The 21st Century Cures Act, of course, has allotted more than $6 billion to federal agencies and states for research and development of healthcare and medical device innovation. Rucker stated that “health data is our data,” and asserted that information blocking can no longer be accepted. He also challenged the healthcare community from vendors to providers to work collaboratively toward developing and using “Open API’s without special effort”.

 

2. The necessity of a Medicaid-centered platform: A panel on “State Readiness for the Next Phase of Marketplace Reform” offered recommendations and best practices for engaging with the Department of Health and Human Services to design state-based coverage solutions. (That’s something WEX Health has been working with Project Poplin on as we bring our government and commercial experience together to define the open architecture for financial management to the Medicaid Enterprise.) The panel included comments from Jessica Kahn, former director of data and systems for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and emphasized that, as states explore new technology initiatives or the potential to move from the federally facilitated marketplaces (FFM), the marketplaces should start with Medicaid and then connect programs for sustainability, transitions and better health engagement. The focus was on unlocking health data to empower more informed decisions as much as it was on creating a unified marketplace and Medicaid-centered platform that would enable states’ flexibility in designing affordable programs that empower members/consumers to plan for health expenses and pay premiums. Panelists also indicated that the CMS budget allocates less money for Navigators to assist in enrollment so enrollment on FFM is expected to decline; FFM enrollment during 2018 Open Enrollment declined (-10.5 percent) while SBM enrollment increased (+1.5 percent).

Finally, the discussion turned to the use of 1332 Waivers and how the administration wants to give states flexibility with enrollment and benefit design. Panelists explained how both FFM and state-based marketplace (SBM) states should look to 1332/1115 Waiver programs and design integrated/interoperable systems between Medicaid, Marketplace and Locality so that program innovations provide 360-degree connections across populations. Systems should look to maximize Medicaid funding and use data to foster greater collaboration between State, Plan, Provider and Member. Medicaid Plans and Medicaid Buy-in on the Exchange is a direction being explored by states with SBMs.

 

3. States are open to a modular approach to Medicaid: In a session on “Integrating the Modular Medicaid Enterprise: Definitions, Expansion and Traction in the Vendor Marketplace,” panelists discussed the challenges (from the vendor perspective) of selling into a state marketplace that’s difficult for best-of-breed point solutions to penetrate. CSG Government Solutions’ Healthcare and Human Services presented the results of a survey of vendors of how best to decompose the various business processes into a truly modular solution. Financial management, per the survey results, was seen as a loosely coupled solution set. The panel talked through the interoperability demands that a modular approach will impose, and Project Poplin was mentioned as a way to define inputs and outputs for loosely coupled modules. Ultimately, the panel reflected the state community’s openness to a modular approach to Medicaid and financial management, with the key challenges being procurement and interoperability.

 

For more insights from the leaders at WEX Health, explore our Capitol Commentary video series.

 

 


Patrick Forman

Vice President of Healthcare Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health

WEX Health is an organization with a mission to simplify the business of paying for healthcare. Patrick is responsible for WEX Health growth in the State and Local government market.

 


 

Christopher Breining

Vice President of Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health

Chris Breining Vice President of Vertical Sales, Billing and Public Sector at WEX Health, a leading payments technology company in the healthcare industry.  Chris is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of consulting and sales in the Global Public Sector focused primarily on Health, Social and Human Services as well as the financial services industry developed during his career at Oracle, Cúram Software, and IBM Watson Health.

Chris led sales of many Integrated Eligibility and State-based Exchanges during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Chris was global sales leader for IBM Watson Health Care Manager leveraging his 20+ years of progressive experience in the government healthcare space.  Chris brings expertise in government relations, Medicaid/Medicare/Exchange policy, MCO and ACO models, MITA, value-based purchasing, population health management, whole person-centered care, social determinants, care management and consumer engagement with the underserved and vulnerable populations to WEX Health.



Everything You Need to Know About Health Savings Accounts

Everything You Need to Know About Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

02/27/2018

 

If you have questions about health savings accounts, we have answers:

 

1. What is an HSA?

A health savings account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged account established to pay the current and future qualifying medical expenses of the account holder, the account holder’s spouse and all of the account holder’s tax dependents. With money from this account, you pay for healthcare expenses that are not covered by the account holder’s HSA eligible health plan.

 

2. Am I eligible to have an HSA?

To put money into a health savings account, you are required to have an HSA eligible health plan— sometimes referred to as a consumer-directed health plan (CDHP) or high-deductible health plan (HDHP)—in effect on the first day of the month.  Additionally, you are not permitted to have any other health coverage that reimburses non-preventative products and services below the deductible, and you cannot be enrolled in Medicare or be claimed as a tax dependent on someone else’s tax return.

 

3. What is a high-deductible health plan (HDHP)?

An HDHP is simply health insurance that meets certain minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket expense requirements set forth by the IRS.

 

4. What are the benefits of having an HSA?

Health savings accounts in many ways offer something for everyone, offering you a way to gain some financial security today and in the future. As triple tax-advantaged accounts, health savings account contributions can be deducted pretax from your paycheck, lowering your taxable income; any interest or investment gains on the money is tax free; and withdrawals from an HSA are tax free, as long as the money is spent on qualified medical expenses.

 

5. What qualifies as IRS-qualified medical expenses?

HSA funds may be used tax-free when paying for qualified medical expenses as described in section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code.  A list of these expenses can be found on the IRS website at www.irs.gov in publication 502 – Medical and Dental Expenses.

 

6. Can I take money out of my HSA for non-medical expenses?

Yes, but if you withdraw money to pay for something other than a qualified medical expense, you will have to include that distribution as other income when filing taxes and pay an additional tax of 20 percent penalty on the amount used for a non-qualified expense.

 

7. Do HSA funds rollover?

Yes, any unused funds are yours to retain in the health savings account and accumulate toward future healthcare expenses. Your HSA is portable, meaning that you can take it with you if you change employers and into retirement where funds may be used for non-qualified medical expenses without being subject to the 20 percent penalty.

 

8. What’s my HSA contribution limit?

The IRS provides inflation-adjusted health savings account contribution limits each year. For 2018, if you’re covered by an individual HSA eligible health plan, sometimes referred to as a consumer-directed health plan (CDHP) or high-deductible health plan (HDHP), the IRS allows you to put as much as $3,450 into your health savings account (HSA). If you’re contributing to an HSA and on a family CDHP, the maximum amount that you can contribute is $6,900.

 

If you’re 55 or older, you can contribute an extra $1,000 annually for a total of $4,450 or $7,900 for account holders on a family plan—with catch-up contributions accepted at any time during the year in which you turn 55. These HSA contribution limits are new for 2018 and just slightly higher than in 2017—$50 more for self-only coverage and $150 more for those on a family plan.

 

Need help determining how much you should set aside in your HSA each month to reach your retirement savings goal? WEX Health provides a free HSA Goal Calculator that you can use to determine the right amount for you.

 

9. Are HSAs used to pay for current medical expenses or to save for retirement?

Either or both. Because healthcare costs during retirement can be daunting, HSAs have become a favorite way to put money away for future medical bills while lowering taxable income. One oft-cited estimate from Fidelity: A 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 can expect to spend an average of $275,000 on medical expenses throughout retirement. This is up from $260,000 in 2016, so one can only imagine how staggering this figure will become for those retiring a few decades from now.

 

10. What’s this I hear about investing my HSA dollars?

An health savings account is an excellent savings vehicle for healthcare costs during retirement, but few people have discovered that they can maximize their account’s long-term savings potential by investing their contributions in stocks, mutual funds and other investment vehicles. Studies show that HSA holders who take advantage of investments often have substantially higher account balances. Devenir reports that the average balance of an HSA investment account is six times larger than a non-investment holder’s average HSA balance. Over time, the savings advantage continues to multiply: The Employee Benefit Research Institute found that HSA investment accounts opened in 2005 had an end-of-year balance in 2016 that averaged $31,239 compared to average balances of $7,233 in accounts without investments.

 

11. What does WEX Health have to do with HSAs?

Through our WEX Health Cloud platform and our vast network of partners, WEX Health is currently powering more health savings accounts than any other HSA platform in the country.

 

We provide a variety of user-friendly tools to HR professionals, benefits leaders and consumers that empower them to find ways to save money and control healthcare costs with HSAs and other consumer-directed healthcare accounts.

 

For consumers: With the WEX Health Cloud Consumer Portal, Mobile App and WEX Health Payment Card, consumers have the ease of paying for their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in a quick and efficient manner. Not only can they use the app to check available balances, view HSA transaction details, make contributions and take distributions, but also they can now conveniently log in using Touch ID. Consumers can also simply swipe their WEX Health Payment Card, and the funds are automatically deducted from their HSA for payment.

 

For employers/HR pros/benefits leaders: WEX Health Cloud was designed to make things easier for employers, not harder. With our WEX Health Cloud Employer Portal and Employer Dashboard, employers and benefits professionals can gain access to an overview of employees’ healthcare spending and saving habits. As of November 2017, the dashboard also includes an innovative new method for assessing an employee base’s ability to pay for out-of-pocket expenses through the Health Financial Viability Index. This data is a key indicator of employees’ financial health and helps employers gain visibility into how their employees are spending their HSA dollars, so they can select plans that best fit their needs. The new HSA Advance functionality gives employers the option to offer employees the ability to “borrow” from their future HSA contributions while providing flexibility in employer management of the program.

 

Today’s workers and employers are utilizing HSAs more than ever. We tell you why on

What You Need to Know About Data Security and Wearable Devices in the Workplace

What You Need to Know About Data Security and Wearable Devices in the Workplace

02/02/2018

 

Now that wearables and smart technology devices are frequently used to incentivize and measure participation in workplace wellness programs, activity trackers have emerged as an important—and sometimes debated—link between employee and employer.

 

Concerns about personal data and activity trackers made the news (again) this week, with reports that U.S. soldiers may have inadvertently revealed the locations of remote military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria by publicly sharing their jogging routes via the Strava fitness app.

 

And during a series of meetings last year between Apple and Aetna, Aetna employees’ questions about the safety of the data on their employer-provided Apple Watches ended up dominating the discussion—and the news media’s coverage of that discussion. By way of background, Aetna partnered with Apple in 2016 to provide select large employers and individual customers with Apple Watches, as well as offering to reimburse all 50,000 of its own employees for the watches. Apple has stressed that health information is only shared with user consent, and Aetna is continuing to gather feedback from its employees about whether or not the watches have had an impact on their nutrition and exercise habits.

 

Of the Apple/Aetna meetings, CNBC reported, “One of the biggest concerns with companies like Apple and Fitbit collecting health information, like steps and heart rate, is that it could get into the wrong hands. These fears are amplified as technology companies strike deals with self-insured employers and health plans.”

 

So what are employers and health insurers doing with the data they collect from activity trackers? The large majority of those employers are doing nothing with it and are providing employees and/or their customers with wearable devices only to encourage health and wellness in hopes of increased productivity and engagement and decreased healthcare costs.

 

Though it’s now common across industries, the trend of doling out activity trackers to employees and customers was popularized by healthcare companies. Back in 2014, tech startup Oscar made headlines when it partnered with Misfit, a wearable device company, to link its customers’ biometric information straight to their health insurance, presenting Amazon gift cards to those who met their fitness goals.

 

Since 2016, UnitedHealthcare has awarded employees who meet fitness goals (as measured by their wearable devices) with monetary prizes and credits that can be applied to a health savings account or health reimbursement account. The company’s vice president of emerging products recently reported that its program, which it calls “Motion F.I.T.”, has yielded “very impressive” engagement and activity rates. And, as part of its Wellvolution program, Blue Shield of California leverages the Walkadoo app, which keeps track of activity and allows employee participants to earn awards such as Fitbits and Visa gift cards. It has since also invited some of its plan participants to engage with the app in exchange for awards. OptimaHealth, Cigna, Humana and other insurers additionally offer their members discounts and rewards tied to activity trackers.

 

Even as activity trackers have provided impetus for some corporate employees to prioritize their health, the practice of incentivizing with them has, in some ways, heightened the tension between personalized medicine and private information. Workplace wellness programs that are offered by group health plans to group health plan participants only are covered by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security rules, while wellness programs offered to all employees, however, are likely not covered by HIPAA.

 

Just last week we reported on a new ruling from a federal district court in Washington, D.C., in which the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been ordered to alter its rules on employer-sponsored wellness programs that financially penalize employees who refuse to provide personal medical and genetic information. As wearable healthcare technology grows more sophisticated, we suspect that the number of questions it raises will continue to grow, as will the opportunities it creates.

 

For more on the role of smartphones and apps in personal health management, read our blog about trends in remote health monitoring.